"Recent disparate studies on lion (Panthera leo) phylogeography have focused on both the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and autosomal markers (SNP/Microsatellites) to produce a patchwork of results covering select regions of the lions range. The lack of an integrated approach to the question of lion evolutionary development has actively hindered conservation efforts, which rely on knowledge of the interrelationships between populations to effectively manage natural diversity. A major hurdle to achieving complete genetic coverage of lion populations throughout their modern range has been the very recent extinction of populations from North Africa (extinct ~1940) and the Middle East (extinct ~1957) and the rarity of lions representing the West African (P.l.senegalensis) and Central African (P.l.azandica) subspecies in the wild and in zoo populations. Recent advances in ancient DNA techniques now allow for the routine generation of sequence data in the range of millions of basepairs (MBP) from ancient material, opening up the possibility of recovering whole genomes (both mitochondrial and nuclear) from preserved remains. Application of cutting-edge aDNA techniques to the problems presented by lion phylogeography offers the means to produce a comprehensive study of lion evolution and expansion. To achieve these objective, the project will aim to:
1) Extract and enrich DNA from museum and modern P.leo samples representing rare and extinct populations, to produce high quality genomic libraries.
2) Generate complete mitochondrial genomes, the first to be sequenced from P.leo and informative autosomal genes as well as a library of modern P.leo LINE elements
3) Generate a species level phylogeny covering complete range for modern lions using combined dataset of mtDNA and nuDNA, incorporating all previously published data.
4) Identify Barbary lion specific mtDNA SNPs, nuDNA SNPs and LINEs with which to screen zoo population."
Fields of science
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